First Look: 2012 Kia Rio

#Kia, #Rio

In keeping with Kia's sportier image over its corporate Hyundai counterpart, the new Rio's standard and optional rolling stock is more aggressive than the Accent. Base tire size is 185/65R-15, with the upgrade tires a surprisingly beefy 205/45R-17 size, both a wheel size and tire width larger than the Accent's factory offerings.

In what appears to be an inter-divisional corporate rivalry, the Rio also one-ups the Accent with some optional features. The top-of-the-line SX model with the Premium package adds a navigation system, push-button start, leather seat trim, and heated front seats, none of which is available on the Accent at any trim level. The mid-level EX trim level includes Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, with Kia's Sync-equivalent UVO system, 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic light control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated exterior mirrors, cruise control, and rear camera display included as part of the EX's available Convenience Package. Even the entry-level LX trim level includes a standard Sirius-ready tuner, CD/MP3 player, and an auxiliary USB audio input for iPods and other portable MP3 players.

Overall chassis dimensions closely follow those of the Accent, with a shared 101.2-inch wheelbase. The Rio sedan is about an inch shorter than the Accent, while the hatch shaves a little more than two inches off the overall length of its counterpart.

In keeping with the Koreans' recently earned reputation for safety leadership, the Rio features six airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes, all standard.

Although not quite to the level of monolithic sales numbers as Toyota, Honda, and the Detroit Three, the Koreans seem to be on a relentless quest to methodically conquer each market segment they enter, and now it looks like the dynamic duo are no longer content to be the "settle for" cars, but are going after the "want to buy" models. We can't wait to pit this pair against the latest crop of subcompacts in an all-out battle for entry-level supremacy.

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